Soul exhaustion as a result of my son’s substance misuse and mental health

tired heart

Soul-sucking exhaustion. You know the kind of tired. So tired, you feel it in your bones. Facing the day seems insurmountable and all-consuming.  When you’re in this state of mind, being around others drains all your energy and you may even withdraw.  

I hit this point when our family was participating in intensive outpatient treatment for Charles’s substance misuse. He had broken into a store, out of his mind after mixing sleep medicine and alcohol, and everything came crashing down. Nothing was going right. I was at such a low point, every task took so much energy and I just sank to the floor one night in exhaustion. (I would hit this point again about ten weeks after my son’s suicide.)  

When I got to this place the first time, I rolled up within myself and took inventory of what I could do recognizing that I couldn’t go on in the state I was in. Changes would have to happen. I gave myself space but didn’t isolate although I did feel alone. 

The helplessness of not being in control of everything as Charles’s life spiraled out of control drained me. I had to embrace that I couldn’t control anything but myself. And I leaned into my relationships at my Families Anonymous support group and engaged in additional small group meetings. 

When I hit this same spot after Charles’s suicide, I looked for support again. And it was those group connections of shared grief that helped me. I gave myself space so I could regroup and figure out a way forward. So at a time when I was tempted to isolate myself, I reached out for support. I now know that is called “opposite action” with is a DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) skill. That’s what helped me pull out of it. 

Don’t give up. Keeping trying to find your people–those who understand what you are dealing with. It’s not the cure-all. It doesn’t make everything perfect. But it’s the spark that can inspire you to find what else you need to make you whole again.

Published by

AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

2 thoughts on “Soul exhaustion as a result of my son’s substance misuse and mental health”

  1. Anne Moss
    This is Suzi Napier, we knew each other through FA. I have a friend who is desperately looking for a good place to get her son evaluated. He is not in a good place and is talking about suicide.
    Any suggestions? I’d greatly appreciate your guidance. Hope you are doing well.

    1. Hey Suzi. I remember you. So your friend needs a suicide risk assessment and then a safety plan.
      Places to get that assessment include Tucker Psychiatric and county resources. So if they live in Chesterfield, Chesterfield Mental Health. Below are the numbers to call to get started. And yes, it’s still frustrating. If it’s an imminent risk, then go to the ER. But here are the resources by county.

      RBHA (Richmond Behavioral Health Authority)
      Virginia Crisis Intervention 804-819-4100

      Chesterfield County Crisis Line
      They have walk-in, same-day assessments.

      Henrico Residents Crisis Line
      (804) 727-8484

      Charles City/New Kent residents Crisis Lines
      (877) 264-8484
      TTY: (804) 727-8496

      Hanover County Adults Crisis Line
      Mental Health &/or Drug/Alcohol Crisis Services
      Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone in Hanover County. Call: 804-365-4200


      Here is a list of community service boards. They’ll have the info or they do the assessments throughout the state based on the region. 988 and 741-741 are also viable options to get resources as well. (The CSBs handle mental health)


      Download: 10 tips for preventing suicide in our children. A guide for parents and caregivers.

      Let me know if this helps.

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